Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies might just be the perfect little slice and bake cookies for the holidays, I’ll be making them right through to when I snag that last bag of fresh cranberries of the season (always a sad moment!)
we fell in love with these cranberry orange shortbread cookies at first bite
These unique cookies are made with fresh tart cranberries and lots of orange zest, which gives them that wonderful holiday flavor combination we’ve come to love. And by using fresh cranberries instead of dried, these cookies have a vivid cranberry flavor like no other I’ve tasted. They’ll brighten up any holiday cookie assortment.
what you’ll need: it’s a short list!
- fresh cranberries ~ this is one case where I don’t recommend frozen because they will release too much moisture into the dough. Could you use dried cranberries? Yes, but it would be a completely different cookie.
- fresh orange zest ~ I actually used tangerine zest because I have a bowl of beauties on my counter, and tangerine has a distinctive citrus flavor that I love.
- butter ~unsalted
- sugar ~ granulated
- flour ~all purpose
- vanilla extract ~ if you prefer you could use almond extract
get your holiday baking done early
The good news: shortbread cookies freeze beautifully, and you can freeze them before or after baking.
to freeze before baking
- wrap the log of dough really well, I like to wrap in plastic, then in foil, and then put in a heavy duty zip log bag. When ready to bake, leave the log in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.
to freeze baked cookies
- let them cool completely, then layer them, separated by sheets of parchment paper, in a sturdy freezer container and freeze.
tips for making fresh cranberry cookies
- I like to chop my cranberries in a small food processor, I just pulse to chop them finely. Some texture is fine, there will be a few bigger pieces. You can also use a sharp knife.
- Be sure to start with room temperature butter. Soft butter will incorporate into the flour to form a dough whereas cold butter won’t. This is especially important with shortbread dough that doesn’t include any extra liquid.
- Be sure to bring your dough together completely ~ you don’t want any dry flour or crumbly bits left. You can let the processor bring it together or you can do that final bit with your hands on a lightly floured surface. Shortbread dough does not contain egg or other liquid so it’s essential that you combine the soft butter and the flour completely to form the dough.
- Thicker sliced cookies will bake up softer, and thinner ones will crisp a bit. You can also control the texture by how long you bake the cookies. I suggest baking one or two first as a test. I like mine melt-in-my-mouth tender, but you might like your crispier.
more shortbread cookies to try
- New Fallen Snow Cookies
- Maple Walnut Shortbread Cookies
- Double Dark Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
- Turkish Coffee Shortbread Cookies
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies
Cranberry Shortbread Cookies
- food processor (optional)
- waxed paper or plastic wrap for wrapping your log of dough
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- zest of one orange or tangerine (just the orange part, not the bitter white pith)
- 1 heaping cup fresh cranberries
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Finely chop the cranberries and set aside.
- Cream the butter, sugar, and zest together until well combined. I do this in my food procesor.
- Add the flour and extract, and pulse about 10 times, then run the machine briefly, just until the dough comes together into a lump or lumps.
- Add the cranberries and pulse just until they are distributed, but don't process too much.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and bring together with your hands. Work it just until it is no longer crumbly.
- Form the dough into a 10-12 inch log. The longer your log the smaller your cookies will be. Wrap the log in plastic, using the plastic to smooth out the dough and help form your log. Twist the ends tight to seal.
- Chill the dough for at least 3 hours, or overnight. I like to wrap up my log in a folded towel ~ this helps keep it round as it chills.
- Preheat the oven to 350F Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
- Slice the dough into 1/3 inch slices and place on the cookie sheet, two inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or slightly longer if you like your cookies crisper. They will be pale on top and just turning golden on the bottom. Note: if your cookies are smaller or thinner than mine, they may take less time to cook.
- Let them cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheets and then tranfer them to a cooling rack. Be careful, the cookies are soft and delicate when hot and will firm up as they cool.